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Chapter 18

In a partitioned-off section of a saloon sat a man with a half
dozen women, gleefully laughing, hovering about him.  The man had
arrived at that stage of drunkenness where affection is felt
for the universe.

"I'm good f'ler, girls," he said, convincingly.  "I'm damn
good f'ler.  An'body treats me right, I allus trea's zem right!
See?"

The women nodded their heads approvingly.  "To be sure," they
cried out in hearty chorus.  "You're the kind of a man we like,
Pete.  You're outa sight!  What yeh goin' to buy this time,
dear?"

"An't'ing yehs wants, damn it," said the man in an abandonment
of good will.  His countenance shone with the true spirit of
benevolence.  He was in the proper mode of missionaries.  He
would have fraternized with obscure Hottentots.  And above all,
he was overwhelmed in tenderness for his friends, who were all
illustrious.

"An't'ing yehs wants, damn it," repeated he, waving his hands
with beneficent recklessness.  "I'm good f'ler, girls, an' if
an'body treats me right I--here," called he through an open door
to a waiter, "bring girls drinks, damn it.  What 'ill yehs have,
girls?  An't'ing yehs wants, damn it!"

The waiter glanced in with the disgusted look of the man who
serves intoxicants for the man who takes too much of them.  He
nodded his head shortly at the order from each individual, and
went.

"Damn it," said the man, "we're havin' heluva time.  I like
you girls!  Damn'd if I don't!  Yer right sort!  See?"

He spoke at length and with feeling, concerning the
excellencies of his assembled friends.

"Don' try pull man's leg, but have a heluva time!  Das right!
Das way teh do!  Now, if I sawght yehs tryin' work me fer drinks,
wouldn' buy damn t'ing!  But yer right sort, damn it!  Yehs know
how ter treat a f'ler, an' I stays by yehs 'til spen' las' cent!
Das right!  I'm good f'ler an' I knows when an'body treats me
right!"

Between the times of the arrival and departure of the waiter,
the man discoursed to the women on the tender regard he felt for
all living things.  He laid stress upon the purity of his motives
in all dealings with men in the world and spoke of the fervor of
his friendship for those who were amiable.  Tears welled slowly
from his eyes.  His voice quavered when he spoke to them.

Once when the waiter was about to depart with an empty tray,
the man drew a coin from his pocket and held it forth.

"Here," said he, quite magnificently, "here's quar'."

The waiter kept his hands on his tray.

"I don' want yer money," he said.

The other put forth the coin with tearful insistence.

"Here, damn it," cried he, "tak't!  Yer damn goo' f'ler an' I
wan' yehs tak't!"

"Come, come, now," said the waiter, with the sullen air of a
man who is forced into giving advice.  "Put yer mon in yer
pocket!  Yer loaded an' yehs on'y makes a damn fool of yerself."

As the latter passed out of the door the man turned
pathetically to the women.

"He don' know I'm damn goo' f'ler," cried he, dismally.

"Never you mind, Pete, dear," said a woman of brilliance and
audacity, laying her hand with great affection upon his arm.
"Never you mind, old boy!  We'll stay by you, dear!"

"Das ri'," cried the man, his face lighting up at the soothing
tones of the woman's voice.  "Das ri', I'm damn goo' f'ler an'
w'en anyone trea's me ri', I treats zem ri'!  Shee!"

"Sure!" cried the women.  "And we're not goin' back on you,
old man."

The man turned appealing eyes to the woman of brilliance and
audacity.  He felt that if he could be convicted of a
contemptible action he would die.

"Shay, Nell, damn it, I allus trea's yehs shquare, didn' I?
I allus been goo' f'ler wi' yehs, ain't I, Nell?"

"Sure you have, Pete," assented the woman.  She delivered an
oration to her companions.  "Yessir, that's a fact.  Pete's a
square fellah, he is.  He never goes back on a friend.  He's the
right kind an' we stay by him, don't we, girls?"

"Sure," they exclaimed.  Looking lovingly at him they raised
their glasses and drank his health.

"Girlsh," said the man, beseechingly, "I allus trea's yehs
ri', didn' I?  I'm goo' f'ler, ain' I, girlsh?"

"Sure," again they chorused.

"Well," said he finally, "le's have nozzer drink, zen."

"That's right," hailed a woman, "that's right.  Yer no
bloomin' jay!  Yer spends yer money like a man.  Dat's right."

The man pounded the table with his quivering fists.

"Yessir," he cried, with deep earnestness, as if someone
disputed him.  "I'm damn goo' f'ler, an' w'en anyone trea's me
ri', I allus trea's--le's have nozzer drink."

He began to beat the wood with his glass.

"Shay," howled he, growing suddenly impatient.  As the waiter
did not then come, the man swelled with wrath.

"Shay," howled he again.

The waiter appeared at the door.

"Bringsh drinksh," said the man.

The waiter disappeared with the orders.

"Zat f'ler damn fool," cried the man.  "He insul' me!  I'm
ge'man!  Can' stan' be insul'!  I'm goin' lickim when comes!"

"No, no," cried the women, crowding about and trying to subdue
him.  "He's all right!  He didn't mean anything!  Let it go!
He's a good fellah!"

"Din' he insul' me?" asked the man earnestly.

"No," said they.  "Of course he didn't!  He's all right!"

"Sure he didn' insul' me?" demanded the man, with deep anxiety
in his voice.

"No, no!  We know him!  He's a good fellah.  He didn't mean
anything."

"Well, zen," said the man, resolutely, "I'm go' 'pol'gize!"

When the waiter came, the man struggled to the middle of the
floor.

"Girlsh shed you insul' me!  I shay damn lie!  I 'pol'gize!"

"All right," said the waiter.

The man sat down.  He felt a sleepy but strong desire to
straighten things out and have a perfect understanding with
everybody.

"Nell, I allus trea's yeh shquare, din' I?  Yeh likes me, don'
yehs, Nell?  I'm goo' f'ler?"

"Sure," said the woman of brilliance and audacity.

"Yeh knows I'm stuck on yehs, don' yehs, Nell?"

"Sure," she repeated, carelessly.

Overwhelmed by a spasm of drunken adoration, he drew two or
three bills from his pocket, and, with the trembling fingers of
an offering priest, laid them on the table before the woman.

"Yehs knows, damn it, yehs kin have all got, 'cause I'm stuck
on yehs, Nell, damn't, I--I'm stuck on yehs, Nell--buy drinksh--
damn't--we're havin' heluva time--w'en anyone trea's me ri'--I--
damn't, Nell--we're havin' heluva--time."

Shortly he went to sleep with his swollen face fallen forward
on his chest.

The women drank and laughed, not heeding the slumbering man in
the corner.  Finally he lurched forward and fell groaning to the
floor.

The women screamed in disgust and drew back their skirts.

"Come ahn," cried one, starting up angrily, "let's get out of
here."

The woman of brilliance and audacity stayed behind, taking up
the bills and stuffing them into a deep, irregularly-shaped
pocket.  A guttural snore from the recumbent man caused her to
turn and look down at him.

She laughed.  "What a damn fool," she said, and went.

The smoke from the lamps settled heavily down in the little
compartment, obscuring the way out.  The smell of oil, stifling
in its intensity, pervaded the air.  The wine from an overturned
glass dripped softly down upon the blotches on the man's neck.




Chapter XIX


In a room a woman sat at a table eating like a fat monk in a picture.

A soiled, unshaven man pushed open the door and entered.

"Well," said he, "Mag's dead."

"What?" said the woman, her mouth filled with bread.

"Mag's dead," repeated the man.

"Deh hell she is," said the woman.  She continued her meal.
When she finished her coffee she began to weep.

"I kin remember when her two feet was no bigger dan yer t'umb,
and she weared worsted boots," moaned she.

"Well, whata dat?" said the man.

"I kin remember when she weared worsted boots," she cried.

The neighbors began to gather in the hall, staring in at the
weeping woman as if watching the contortions of a dying dog.  A
dozen women entered and lamented with her.  Under their busy hands
the rooms took on that appalling appearance of neatness and order
with which death is greeted.

Suddenly the door opened and a woman in a black gown rushed in
with outstretched arms.  "Ah, poor Mary," she cried, and tenderly
embraced the moaning one.

"Ah, what ter'ble affliction is dis," continued she.  Her vocabulary
was derived from mission churches.  "Me poor Mary, how I feel fer yehs!
Ah, what a ter'ble affliction is a disobed'ent chil'."

Her good, motherly face was wet with tears.  She trembled in
eagerness to express her sympathy.  The mourner sat with bowed head,
rocking her body heavily to and fro, and crying out in a high,
strained voice that sounded like a dirge on some forlorn pipe.

"I kin remember when she weared worsted boots an' her two
feets was no bigger dan yer t'umb an' she weared worsted boots,
Miss Smith," she cried, raising her streaming eyes.

"Ah, me poor Mary," sobbed the woman in black.  With low,
coddling cries, she sank on her knees by the mourner's chair,
and put her arms about her.  The other women began to groan
in different keys.

"Yer poor misguided chil' is gone now, Mary, an' let us hope
it's fer deh bes'.  Yeh'll fergive her now, Mary, won't yehs, dear,
all her disobed'ence?  All her t'ankless behavior to her mudder an'
all her badness?  She's gone where her ter'ble sins will be judged."

The woman in black raised her face and paused.  The inevitable
sunlight came streaming in at the windows and shed a ghastly
cheerfulness upon the faded hues of the room.  Two or three of the
spectators were sniffling, and one was loudly weeping.  The
mourner arose and staggered into the other room.  In a moment she
emerged with a pair of faded baby shoes held in the hollow of her hand.

"I kin remember when she used to wear dem," cried she.
The women burst anew into cries as if they had all been stabbed.
The mourner turned to the soiled and unshaven man.

"Jimmie, boy, go git yer sister!  Go git yer sister an' we'll
put deh boots on her feets!"

"Dey won't fit her now, yeh damn fool," said the man.

"Go git yer sister, Jimmie," shrieked the woman, confronting
him fiercely.

The man swore sullenly.  He went over to a corner and slowly
began to put on his coat.  He took his hat and went out, with a
dragging, reluctant step.

The woman in black came forward and again besought the mourner.

"Yeh'll fergive her, Mary!  Yeh'll fergive yer bad, bad,
chil'!  Her life was a curse an' her days were black an' yeh'll
fergive yer bad girl?  She's gone where her sins will be judged."

"She's gone where her sins will be judged," cried the other
women, like a choir at a funeral.

"Deh Lord gives and deh Lord takes away," said the woman in
black, raising her eyes to the sunbeams.

"Deh Lord gives and deh Lord takes away," responded the others.

"Yeh'll fergive her, Mary!" pleaded the woman in black.  The
mourner essayed to speak but her voice gave way.  She shook her
great shoulders frantically, in an agony of grief.  Hot tears
seemed to scald her quivering face.  Finally her voice came and
arose like a scream of pain.

"Oh, yes, I'll fergive her!  I'll fergive her!"



Stephen Crane

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